St Augustines Gillingham
St Augustine's Gillingham
at the Heart of the Parish
History - The Beginning

The conclusion of the South African War had led to greater demand for naval and maritime improvement, so Chatham again sprang into prominence for its dockyard shipbuilding amenities. This attracted thousands of workers with the local naval, marine, and army barracks becoming fully manned. New accommodation became paramount, and the sparsely built-up land south of Gillingham's High Street and river areas was rapidly converted, up as far as the Rainham Road and Watling Street by such estates as Poet's Corner (Shakespeare, Rock Avenue, Longfellow, Tennyson, Byron, Milton, Chaucer, and Cowper Roads). between this development and the High Street and to the East as far as Woodlands Road and the orchard land beyond, houses sporadically sprang up forming what is now the parish of St Augustine's.

Worshipping on the site of St Augustine's began in the Mission Church which came under the patronage of the Southwark Diocese. The Mission Church was built in 1911 from corrugated iron and timber and was known as the Iron Church. The first Incumbent was the Rev. Fredk Marsdin assisted by Rev. Stanley Fleet. Services were popular in these early days with two sittings, of 270 each, for Sunday Matins.

Our Church, standing on top of Chatham Hill, holds the unique position of being able to look down on every other church in the Medway Towns. It was not intended to build a church there in the first place. In the days when the Parish of St. Barnabas embraced the whole of the upper part of Gillingham, their Parochial Church Council purchased a piece of land situated at the top end of Barnsole Road and First Avenue, (hence Glebe Road which bounded it). This cone-shaped piece of land was let out as allotments for many years until another piece of land was decided upon - our present site - because of its greater density, and an already 'made' congregation on site at the Mission Church.

After a little over a year, the Rev. Marsdin was moved on to repeat the work of missioning elsewhere, being succeeded by the Rev. Cyril Reinold as Missioner. He continued with Rev. Fleet and a changing number of assistants. During this time they and the Diocese had plans drawn up by Temple Moore and purchased land for what we know today as St Augustine's.

The building contract commenced in June 1914 and the first sod was turned on Boxing Day of that year. The foundation stone was laid in 1915, and the church was built by a firm from Boston. The estimated cost was 6,000 for two Vestries, Chancel and organ loft using Kentish ragstone obtained from quarries near Maidstone.

This first part of our Church was completed and consecrated in 1916, St. Augustine's Parish was constituted in 1917 and the first Vicar was the Reverend C Reinold. He lived in a small cottage opposite the Church between the present car showroom and the public house where two semi-detached houses are now.

The 1920s